12 Oct How to Recognise Negative Cycles of Anxiety
In a previous blog I spoke about the impact of environmental anxiety…. not knowing what was around the corner with a pandemic looming!!Have a look at that blog for some useful insights in how such anxiety can develop.
Keep repeating the same pattern but expecting something new to happen – A terrible idea? – that’s what Einstein suggested:
“ We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein.
World Metal Health Day 10th October
Uncertainty is part of our world right now, and it is helpful for us all to consider our mental wellbeing regularly during these changeable times. A day like World Mental Health Day – helps open up conversations about our emotional health. We are all experiencing some struggles related to Covid-19 and dealing with changes rapidly. Factors related to the pandemic such as job losses, isolation, fears of illness can increase our level of anxiety and we might be feeling this as an ongoing state of being.
I thought it would be helpful here to focus in on the cycle of anxiety. We might be using unhelpful strategies that maintain anxiety rather than eliminate it. Understanding our triggers and unhelpful cycles can move us from what might feel like a hopeless situation into something where we can look at the situation from a different perspective.
When we are faced with difficult situations in our lives, we might fall back into old habits to deal with these events. We might not be conscious of what we are doing at the time, but the outcome and consequences might be with us for a long time.
You might often hear the phrase – ‘I’ve always been a worrier’, ‘I have to be in control’, ‘I can’t stand to see things out of place’. These phrases can identify how someone deals with difficulties. Why does someone always worry about things, why does someone else never let anyone else help but always takes control of situations? Often the past has something to do with it and our learned behaviour. We learn how to navigate uncertainty and distress and fall back on these patterns again and again as we don’t want to deal with new strategies necessarily that we are unsure about and make us feel even more uncomfortable because they are unknown.
The thing is we need to admit to ourselves that the old strategy isn’t working and that maybe we can try something else. We might also need to seek help to see things from a different angle. This often happens when we are at a very low point and all resources have been explored in our tool kit – we then turn for help.
Kim and I have seen again and again how being stuck in unhelpful cycles leads to anxiety and depression and a sense of being less able to cope with life’s events. We know that it can be hard to change and challenge old patterns but once you start to see there is another way of looking at a situation it is actually quite liberating!
3 things to consider:
- What phrases do I keep repeating when faced with uncertainty? What am I telling myself about the situation or myself – is it fair and accurate?
- What do I feel inside when I’m uncertain – do my feelings lead me to believe what I’m telling myself? This is called emotional reasoning. Because we feel a certain way, we believe something must be true
- What do I do in response to the unknown situation – do I tend to put things off, jump into something quickly not tell others what is going on, avoid the situation altogether. We call these behaviours safety behaviours. We think they are helping us prevent bad things happening, but often the behaviours are the cause of more trouble.
Then ask yourself – does this happen on a regular basis? Are all these elements above related to each other?
If these questions resonate for you – then come and speak to Kim and I – we can help you recognise the negative cycles you might be in and also how to challenge them.
Commitment is an act, not a word. Jean-Paul Sartre
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